Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Powershell still sucks

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Powershell is a great command line shell, if you all you know is cmd and batch. There are so many things it is missing when trying to compete with current Unix shells such as Bash, and while some of them have semi-working workarounds, many are sorely missing.

My pet peeves are:

  • A decent pager. “more” is basically at the same stage it was when I started working in MS-DOS 3.30, and it is nowhere near the functionality of “less”(1).
  • Persistent history. I’ve seen some workarounds but couldn’t get any of them to work properly.

Both of these features have been available to me since I started working with Linux in 1995, and it is really difficult living without them in MS-world. A decent terminal emulator will be nice too – the Powershell box has advantage over the cmd.exe box in that it is blue – other then that they are both in the same sorry state that the “dos box” of Windows 3 fame was at. I’m using “Console 2” to get some useful work done, but it too leaves much to be desired.

Also, startup is so.. fscking.. slow.. Starting Powershell on a brand new machine (with no per-session user scripts) can take as much as 3 seconds. Those are minutes of my life everyday that I would never get back.

  1. and I’m not talking about the built-in editor, just being able to “page up” would have been nice []

Canonical announced a new display server – Mir, and it is good for the consumer

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Canonical have last week announced that they are developing their own display server to replace the ubiquitous X display server, a project called Mir, and the shit storm has begun anew(as what happened after Unity, Ubuntu Touch and other Canonical announcements). Contrary to popular belief, I think that this happening is a good thing for the Linux community in whole.

There are many reasons why I think this is good, most are not really concrete technical things, but I can list a few:

  • X11 is showing its age. There were some internal efforts to modernize it (e.g. kdrive which have mostly merged into the existing code) and some external efforts to replace it (Fresco and Wayland to name a few), but none have made much of an impact on the current state of Linux display.
  • From first look, Mir is a modern code base written in C++11 and Boost, which I like.
  • Diversity is generally a good thing.

If we go over the last point in a bit more depth, I think we can see why Mir would generally be a good thing for Linux developers and users and why people should stop being negative.


What is Windows XP for you?

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I just “love” this quote from this PC-Magazine article:

… the amazingly enduring Windows XP—easily Microsoft’s most successful enterprise product ever…

Which is a really cock-eyed way to look at the operating system market, which completely ignores purchasing decisions by millions of users world-wide. A better description of Windows XP might be:

The last reasonably well-made operating system that Microsoft made

Users aren’t migrating from Windows XP because its so good(1) – they keep using Windows XP because every later OS is really bad.

  1. hint: it isn’t []

TurkTrust CA certificate breach and what does it mean for you

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

A pseudo analysis of the issue that was brought to my attention by Eric Klien’s post here. The following text is slightly edited version of my comment on the post, reproduced here because I think its important for my readers to be aware of the issue.

A new CA kerfuffle has broken out yesterday, and here are some of the headlines:

The information for the discussion below was sourced from these, more technical, articles(1):

To summarize, the problem was a botched test process in TurkTrust CA (as part of an external security audit) that caused a CA profile to be set up to generate “sub CA” certificates, and following that the profile was copied to the production system and subsequently used to generate two certificates before the problem was discovered and fixed (I assume the test profile was removed from the production system), but only 1 of those certificate was revoked. (more…)

  1. I applaud BBC for trying to present a complex security issue in “layman terms”, but as someone who is familiar with the technology in question, it gave me quite a headache, trying to “reverse translate” the text []

Apple’s next iPhone 5 will have everything we’ve already seen on Android

Monday, July 9th, 2012

International Business Times has published an article with some features made available by iOS 6 that is likely iPhone 5 will offer:

Answering/Declining Calls – Users will now have the option to answer or decline calls. Users may send a text message from a choice of pre-programmed options if you wish not to be disturbed at the moment. Users will also be able to remind themselves to return the missed calls later.

Really? That’s a new feature? Having used these features constantly since, like, forever on Android, I’m actually very surprised that iOS didn’t have those up till now.


צלצול ניתוק (“צינתוק”) מבית 012 סמייל

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

אם אתם רואים שהתקשרו אליכם ממספר שמתחיל בספרות 072-200 (לדוגמא 072-2003144), אל תתקשרו בחזרה: אלה אנשי מכירות של חברת 012 סמייל שרוצים למכור לכם משהו, ונראה שהחלט לנקוט בגישת “צלצול/ניתוק” כדי לעודד את לקוחותיהם לחזור אליהם. כנראה כדרך לחסוך בזמני המתנה של אנשי מכירות: אם המערכת האוטומטית גורמת ללקוחות להתקשר לאיש המכירות, אז איש המכירות לא צריך לבזבז זמן בהמתקנה שהלקוח ירים את הטלפון.

אני לא חושב שהשימוש הזה מתנגש עם חוק מניעת דואר זבל (תיקון מס’ 40 לחוק התקשורת), אפילו לא תחת תיקון 47 לחוק התקשורת הידוע כחוק נגד “צינתוק” (ראו גם את התביעה היצוגית בנושא) מכיוון שאני לקוח של 012 ותחת חוק התקשורת מותר להם לשלוח לי דברי פרסום, אבל עדיין מדובר בחוצפה ממדרגה ראשונה – לצפות שאני אשלם עבור משלוח דבר פרסומת אלי.

אז כל מה שיש לי לעשות הוא להמליץ לקוראי להזהר ולא לחזור לשיחות טלפון שלא נענו מחברת -012 סמייל.

Android, iOS – who stole from who?

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The obvious answer is – who cares? But Apple fan-boys seem to like to gloat that any smartphone design (or at least any design moderately successful – nobody is looking at Symbian) is a “rip off” from the iPhone, while Android fan-boys(1) point out may cases where iOS designers “shamelessly” “got inspired” by Android features such as the pull-down notifications, seamless multi-tasking, “share” functionality, personal Wi-Fi hotspot, untethered syncing (iCloud in Apple’s lingo) and more.

So everyone copies from everyone else – that’s how a market should behave: if one product comes up with a better idea, then it is only expected that other products can build on that idea – and sometimes do it better. And don’t get me started on the patent thing – patents allow an inventor to protect the technology and implementation of a specific idea, it does not give one a monopoly on ideas (even though many today try to use the patent system like that).

The question that, I think, is more interesting to ask is – who is more willing to play this game and who treats idea as their sole domain and exclusive property?

The answer, not coming as a surprise to anyone, can be found in Apple’s founder new biography: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, as reported by AP review of the book set to be available tomorrow, here are some choice quotes (taken from AP’s review):

Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted to “grand theft.”

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Jobs told Schmidt [Google’s CEO at the time] … ” I want you to stop using our ideas in Android”


  1. of whom I am a card carrying member, I’ll admit []

Suddenly I’m Less Worried

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

About my next Android phone: Google Buys Motorola Mobility (for $12.5B).

This deal is very good for me, as a consumer of high-end smart phones, for several reasons: one reason is the more obvious patent issue: the Google smart phone OS has come under fire from competitors (mostly Apple) in a host of patent lawsuits, though none of them actually targeted Google itself: the main advantage of Android is its availability to any small manufacturer – which enabled the amazingly rich ecosystem that is the Android world, but its also its main disadvantage as competitors can target “small fish” for their patent extortion, companies that are too small to afford a real legal battle. Google wasn’t in a good position to help defend their OEMs or developers, and I believe this is what they were trying to do with their Nortel patents bids, that didn’t come through – but they had an ace in their sleeve: even as the Nortel business was going on, Google was probably already deep in negotiation with Motorola Mobility that hold a portfolio of around 18,000 patents and patent applications – compared with Nortel’s paltry 6,000 patents. With this arsenal, and once the deal comes through(1), expect Google to come out swinging.

But as I mentioned – this is only part of why I’m happy about this deal. The second, and likely more important reason as I will be looking for a new phone at about early 2012, is that I think Motorola Mobility is one of the best makers of Android running hardware – if not the best. They definitely have the market in keyboard slider phones, which is the kind I’m using. The problem is, I’m a power user – I like to use the latests and best software available and the whole point of having a small computer (read: user programmable device) in your pocket – is the ability to install and upgrade whenever something new comes out (about every couple of months). And this is where Motorola devices fail me: Motorola like to keep a lock down on any user modifications to the phone’s operating system and their devices are notoriously hard to mod – installing a new firmware on a Motorola phone is a dangerous game of “will it brick?”.

Motorola has come out with promises of freeing up the phone “bootloader” (the part of the phone’s firmware that makes sure you don’t install “unauthorized” software) but so far we haven’t see any results. I have hope that under the new ownership, Motorola Mobility developers will find it easier to keep to this promise and allow us power users to buy hardware on which we can run whatever Android-based operating system we want.

  1. supposedly by early 2012 – these things take time []

Mandatory Access Control And Malware

Monday, July 18th, 2011

After listening to the virtus/malware discussion on LUG Radio’s new (but apparently one-off) show (check it out at, these guys are hilarious), got me thinking about how much Linux users are exposed to malware.

Lets forget, for the sake of the discussion, the technical attacks(1) as these are relatively easy to handle and Linux operating systems are already pretty well protected against such. The main vector of attack for malware these days is Social Engineering anyway – this is how Mac OS-X users get attacked by malware: you browse a web site, and an image that looks like a a blinking dialog box notifies you that your computer has been infected by a virus and prompts you to download this “fix”.

Most of us, technically inclined users, sneer at this type of “threat”, but most people aren’t technically inclined and there are enough people out there that will be fooled by this practice time and time again. Click the image and a binary gets downloaded to your computer and if it is in the correct format it will get executed.


  1. Such as buffer overflows and such []

For all the people who have waited patiently, CentOS 6 is here

Monday, July 11th, 2011

After a long long time in the making, rumors of abandonment and general discomfort in the community, the CentOS people have finally pulled through and bring you the brand new (though by now several months old) CentOS 6.0.

A lot of system administrators have been waiting for this (me included) so I thought I’d give a heads up 🙂

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